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Evolution. 2009 Jun;63(6):1464-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00618.x. Epub 2009 Jan 14.

Sex-linkage of sexually antagonistic genes is predicted by female, but not male, effects in birds.

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Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Evolutionary theory predicts that sexually antagonistic loci will be preferentially sex-linked, and this association can be empirically testes with data on sex-biased gene expression with the assumption that sex-biased gene expression represents the resolution of past sexual antagonism. However, incomplete dosage compensating mechanisms and meiotic sex chromosome inactivation have hampered efforts to connect expression data to theoretical predictions regarding the genomic distribution of sexually antagonistic loci in a variety of animals. Here we use data on the underlying regulatory mechanism that produce expression sex-bias to test the genomic distribution of sexually antagonistic genes in chicken. Using this approach, which is free from problems associated with the lack of dosage compensation in birds, we show that female-detriment genes are significantly overrepresented on the Z chromosome, and female-benefit genes underrepresented. By contrast, male-effect genes show no over- or underrepresentation on the Z chromosome. These data are consistent with a dominant mode of inheritance for sexually antagonistic genes, in which male-benefit coding mutations are more likely to be fixed on the Z due to stronger male-specific selective pressures. After fixation of male-benefit alleles, regulatory changes in females evolve to minimize antagonism by reducing female expression.

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